Hunters to the right, gatherers to the left

Today I was telling my friend Andy that I found it interesting how both the political left and the political right in this country have their respective “pro-life” contingencies. For the left the issues include animal rights and opposition to the death penalty. For the right the issue is opposition to abortion. Although they might agree on little else, both contingents predicate their argument on a premise that “life is precious”.

Andy then pointed out to me that these positions map quite well into contrasting opinions about Patriarchy: The political right are “hunters”, for whom the traditional concerns of men are predominant. The political left are “gatherers”, for whom the traditional concerns of women are more important.

Hunters want men to have more of a say in the progeny of women they impregnate, whereas gatherers might think this assertion intrudes on a woman’s own judgment as to the best time to bring a child into the world.

Hunters might see the killing of animals for food as essential, whereas gatherers might be more inclined to view it as unnecessary violence.

Hunters might tend to see the death penalty as a necessary part of patriarchal justice, whereas gatherers might perceive it as the unwarranted triumph of vengeance over respect for life.

Of course where there is an ideal, there is often a symbol. To the hunter, the ultimate symbol is the gun. This object does not merely represent the hunter’s power over life and death; it also serves as a useful proxy for another object of vaguely similarly shape that is not usually brandished in polite company.

The gatherer’s response to both objects, and their frequent use as symbols of power, can be remarkably similar: “Put that thing away”.

4 Responses to “Hunters to the right, gatherers to the left”

  1. eli b. says:

    It’s an interesting distinction you paint here (if, you know, manichaean by nature) but historically speaking, have gatherer societies actually been more equal ones?
    Appreciate the comment; it’s a welcome change from the hysteria that dominates the topic in general.

  2. admin says:

    That’s a good question!

    The hysteria itself would be an interesting topic of conversation. It seems to be connected to our universal tendency to see people and events through the lens of our preconceived biases. So, for example, two people can watch exactly the same political debate and then come away having seen entirely different events.

  3. eli b. says:

    And attempting to somehow correct for those biases is a long, introspective process. The epistemology of politics is neither…well not of, uh, the news cycle anyway. What you just described about the debate unfolded live on television, both with the CNN dials and then the mad dash towards conclusions that followed. (And it’s not like I wasn’t guilty; I was commenting on the debate as it happened just like everybody else).
    The only thing I can think of in the way of a simple test is – how often you are critical of ‘your side’? But even that doesn’t tell you too much.
    (Confession: I was looking for the ‘Like’ button on the previous comment. I’m not used to it not being there anymore. Scary. Also, something to think about before betting against Zuck.)

  4. eli b. says:

    “Andy then pointed out to me that these positions map quite well into contrasting opinions about Patriarchy: The political right are “hunters”, for whom the traditional concerns of men are predominant. The political left are “gatherers”, for whom the traditional concerns of women are more important.”

    It just occurred to me that there’s no such thing as a ‘gatherer society’ or ‘hunter society’ – they are always described as ‘hunter-gatherers’. So I don’t think I had a good question after all. You were describing two tendencies within an organic whole.

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